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WOMAN'S  LIFE                        133

Rites. To what extent such ceremonial "rites" in the books
were observed in practice it is impossible to ascertain. It is
easy to understand this seclusion from the viewpoint of the
whole Confucian social philosophy. It stood for a society with
emphasis on distinction between superiority and inferiority.
It stood for obedience, for recognition of authority in a family
as in a state, and for the division of labour between man's
duties outside and women's duties in the home. It encouraged
the womanly woman, and naturally taught such feminine
virtues as quietness, obedience, good manners, personal neat-
ness, industry, ability in cooking and spinning, respect for the
husband's parents, kindness to the husband's brothers, courtesy
to the husband's friends, and all those virtues desirable from
the male point of view. Nothing was radically wrong in these
moral instructions, and with their economic dependence and
their love of conventions, women accepted them. Perhaps the
women desired to be good, or perhaps they desired to please
the men.

Confucianism saw that this sexual differentiation was
necessary for social harmony, and perhaps Confucianism was
quite near the truth. Then Confucianism also gave the wife
an "equal" position with the husband, somewhat below the
husband, but still an equal helpmate, like the two fish in the
Taoist symbol of yin and yang> necessarily complementing
each other. It also gave the mother an honoured position in
the home. In the best spirit of Confucianism, this differen-
tiation was interpreted, not as a subjection but as a harmony
of relationships. Women who could rule their husbands
knew that dependence on this sexual arrangement was their
best and most effective weapon for power, and women who
could not were too dull to raise feminist problems.

This was the Confucian attitude toward women and women's
position in society before it came under the influence of the
later men scholars. It had not yet developed that curiously and
perversely selfish aspect characteristic of the later attitudes,
but the basic notions of woman's inferiority were there. One
flagrant instance was the rule that while the husband's mourn-
ing period for the wife was only one year, the wife's mourning
period for the husband was three years, and while the normal